It’s no secret I love the writing of Margo Lanagan. My first encounter with her work was when I bought Red Spikes last year for my birthday. That collection was a revelation, showing me a way of writing that I’d not quite encountered before (or if I had I’d not noticed!) It prodded me to find a balance between what is currently fashionable in writing “rules” and what is true to the story and my “Voice”. Since then I have bought every physical book of hers I could get my hands on (eagerly awaiting Cracklescape here).
When I learned she would be at a salon event at Avid Reader I was torn. I desperately wanted to go, but I also realised it was potentially a disastrous move as I would have to take the baby (who was 4.5 months old at the time). He was (and still is) deep in the throes of teething nonsense so I felt quite a bit of anxiety about what could go wrong. My lovely enabler (yes, Jodi Cleghorn, you!) prodded me and put my fears into perspective while offering to come with me. So, hoping for the best, off we went.
I still feel a bit odd mingling with writers and saying “I’m a writer” so there was a bit of joking about me being the official proofreader. I found it hard to say to a bunch of well-known writers “Hey yeah I’m a writer too!” Added to that the low-level anxiety that Griffin would start screaming at any moment, and well, I could not relax. But he ended up being a great conversation starter, catching the eye of Margo’s partner (though at that point I had no idea who he was as I’m atrocious at introducing myself). We exchanged parenting stories and eventually the official event began.
At first all was well. Griffin needed a little bit of bouncing on my knee but was quiet enough. By the time Margo spoke I had to be up and rocking him. I walked and jiggled him and cursed myself for leaving my water in the car. Eventually he puked all over my jeans, shoes and Avid’s floor. Oh lovely.
I still enjoyed listening to Margo talk. She is marvellously well-spoken, makes a lot of sense and is funny to boot. As soon as that was over I dashed to find something to wipe the floor, having visions of someone slipping in puke and me getting sued. Steven came to my rescue to hold Griffin while I lined up to get my copy of Sea Hearts signed, and so my baby boy got to have his photo taken with them!
For the record, I had my entire library of Margo Lanagan books with me (bar Red Spikes which is a signed copy) but being the dithering, awkward-around-celebrity person I am, I only asked Margo to sign Sea Hearts. I also bought the only book I didn’t have (Tender Morsels).
I’m sure most normal people aren’t like me. Most people seem to be able to walk up to famous people and ask them for autographs and photos. I am actually celebrity shy. I will pretend I don’t recognise people so they don’t have to deal with the weary annoyance of a one-sided recognition. I treat them like normal people, by and large, or just avoid them. My good friends know I’m pretty clueless about who the latest trendy celebs are, so chances are if I walked by someone famous I wouldn’t actually realise it anyway.
But when I am around someone who inspires me… ack. I worry I’m going to say something stupid (because I do that a lot anyway), and come across like an idiot. And like a gushing teenage girl stereotype. So I tried to make intelligent small talk but I’m afraid I probably babbled like a fool. Jodi insisted on a photo, I look pretty silly but Margo was completely gracious.
After mingling a bit more and retrieving Griffin from Steven who looked as though he might run off with the baby, I decided it was time to go and take the sleepy bubba home. I was hot, tired, wound up from anxiety but also happy to have actually met someone who has inspired me so much. And her partner is just wonderful! And also a big thank you to Jodi for enabling me, giving me curry and holding the baby.
Here’s to more writing shenanigans!